MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - It’s not lost on Pablo Lopez how much value the Minnesota Twins put on him entering the 2023 season.
The Twins needed high-end starting pitching to complement Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober and the rest of the potential rotation. The Twins wanted Lopez, and they paid a premium to get him.
They dealt fan-favorite and current American League batting champion Luis Arraez to the Miami Marlins to bring Lopez to Minnesota. One of the biggest reasons the Twins missed the playoffs in 2022 for the second straight year was a lack of high-end pitching. The hope is Lopez changes that.
Fox 9 Sports Director Jim Rich caught up with Lopez at Spring Training in Fort Myers.
"I feel like with the trade happening, expectations have never been higher. That just raised the bar, I raised my own bar to be the guy that when he takes the mound every five days, I know that I’m prepared both physically and mentally to be the guy on the mound that’s just willing to go out there and leave everything on the field," Lopez said. "I’m willing to go out there and die for my teammates. My mindset is throw the first pitch and the last pitch of the game."
Lopez spent five seasons with the Marlins, and went 10-10 in 32 starts last year. He had a 3.75 earned run average with 174 strikeouts in 180 innings. It was the third straight season he’s had an ERA under four. He also threw the most pitches of any Twins’ starter.
Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli embraced the move last month at TwinsFest.
"Being able to really fatten up that rotation, bring in an extra really good arm in Pablo Lopez, that’s a key move for us," Baldelli said. "Hopefully those benefits will be reaped over the course of a long season, knowing we have a lot of guys that we can turn to."
The Twins have their first split-squad game of Spring Training on Saturday.